When your paternal grandparents have 9 kids, your maternal grandparents have 7 kids, and you end up having over 20 older cousins from 16 aunts and uncles, family tends to play a major role in your life. Being so close to family all my life and then suddenly being over 4000 miles away from them made my transition to Stockholm a little difficult. Shortly after getting settled I became aware of how much I missed having the family element in my life. Instead of calling and texting home, I did what any rational thinking person who misses their family when going abroad would do…
…I went and found a new one.
The Visiting Host program offered by DIS provided me with the opportunity to have the comfort of being close to a family during my time in Stockholm. What the program does is that DIS matches students with local families in Sweden so that they may engage in cultural activities together at least once a month. What I love about the Visiting Host program is that it offered me the best of two worlds – I could continue to live in my housing in the residential community that was comfortable for me, but still be culturally enriched by being involved with a local family like the students doing Homestay. The activities that can happen during the program include going out to eat, parties, barbecues, and many more. After DIS matched me to my local family, they reached out to me and invited me to their home for dinner.
Joakim and Lena hosted me at their home one quiet Sunday evening and I could not have enjoyed it more. After picking me up from the Pendeltåg (Swedish Commuter Train) Station near her home, Lena walked me back and told me about how she had 4 kids, two of whom had studied abroad in the United States. She also told me about how her family had hosted an American exchange student recently. Once we arrived she gave me a tour of her lovely home where I saw her backyard, kitchen, bedrooms, hangout room for the kids, as well as an exercise room that had a sauna and hot tub. I even got to meet their cat and dog!
After the tour Lena, Joakim, and I all sat down for a delicious lax (Swedish for Salmon) dinner followed by sorbet ice cream for dessert. Added to that was fresh squeezed apple juice the couple had bought from a local farmer. During dinner we talked about what Swedes think of the current election in the United States, what they think of their own political system, and how they and others viewed the refugee crisis. I greatly enjoyed hearing their views on all these topics, as well as sharing stories of my life back in the U.S, as well as the goofy mistakes I’ve been making during my stay in Stockholm. We all enjoyed asking each other questions about the cultures we come from. Some of my favorite moments from our chats included when Lena told me about how she scared her cat into behaving properly and the moments where Joakim and I both talked about our love of cars and driving. He even told me about his Tesla (at which point I nearly fell out of my chair out of excitement because that car is the closest we’ve come to the Batmobile).
After a couple great hours with the couple I decided that I had to leave because I had to be up early the next day. As I was refreshing my memory of how I was going to get back, Lena and Joakim had a better idea…
…they decided to give me a ride back in their sweet Tesla!
Riding next to Joakim as he showed me all the amazing features of his car and speeding along the highways of Stockholm is something I’ll never forget. Lena sat in the back and pointed out local points of interest and explained them as we drove. I’ve learned so much from dinner with Lena and Joakim; I could not have found a better way to spend my Sunday evening. Stay tuned, dear readers, as the couple has invited me to join them on several more events in the future, which I will definitely plan on sharing with all of you.
Vi ses! (That’s Swedish for “See you!”)